Revellers warned not to release lanterns near airports


With the Loy Krathong festival coming up next week, the public is being warned they could face the death penalty if they release airborne lanterns in airport safety zones.

Taking place on the nights of November 27 and 28, Loy Krathong is marked by sailing decorated floats or ‘krathong’ on waterbodies to pay respect to Mae Phra Khongkha, the Goddess of Water.

The festival is also celebrated with fireworks and, in certain parts of Thailand, the release of lanterns into the sky.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) said on Thursday that lanterns, balloons, fireworks, laser lights, drones and other items that might damage aircraft are banned around Thailand’s six main airports, namely Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai (Mae Fah Luang), Phuket and Hat Yai in Songkhla.

AOT said it was enforcing the Air Navigation Act, which bans the release of floating lanterns, rockets, fireworks, laser beams and similar objects in air safety zones.

Under the act, causing damage to an aircraft that renders it incapable of flight, or which endangers or is likely to endanger its safety in flight, is punishable with the death penalty, 15 years to life imprisonment and/or a fine of 600,000-800,000 baht.

People who want to launch airborne lanterns outside air safety zones should seek permission from their local provincial administration, AOT said.

AOT also cited the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) ruling that stipulates that launching unmanned aircraft (drones) within 9 kilometres of airports requires permission from the relevant authorities.

AOT added that it has dispatched staffers to promote public awareness regarding air safety regulations in communities around the airports.